Invisible Trajectories

Marianne in the Moreno Valley

I live in Moreno Valley in a neighborhood referred to as Sunnymead Ranch. It is in the northern section of Moreno Valley, just on the edge of Reche Canyon. The drive in and out of Moreno Valley is also heavily impacted by construction that seems to never end.

Every workday, I leave the house at 7:30am and head onto the 60 Freeway and waste approx. 25 minutes trying to merge with traffic on the 60/215. Once I clear that area, I have to be very conscious of who is traveling behind me as the traffic flow will slam on its breaks going downhill which causes multiple rear enders on a daily basis. I take the 60 west to the 15 north to the 10 west and exit at Indian Hill in Claremont. I usually get to work around 8:40 am, which is really, really great. Often, I am at work until late into the evening, but will leave anywhere between 5 pm and 9:30 pm for home. I always take a different route home than I do to work because of construction and traffic. I enter the 10 east at Indian Hill and take the 10 and exit Waterman Ave in San Bernardino and then head south through Reche Canyon.

Reche Canyon is a beautiful area that was created by the San Jacinto fault. It winds between two different ranges of hills and it is extremely rural and natural. One of my favorite things about this route is the burros. It seems that back in the late 60’s there was a farmer in the area that let loose 5 to 10 donkey’s into the canyon who then met up with wild burro’s and now there is a little herd of burro’s that travel up and down the canyon grazing and knocking over sprinkler heads for water. You usually see them at night standing and grazing along side the edge of the road. I have only seen a group of about 7 or 8 at one time but driving through there makes me feel like I don’t live in such an overpopulated, concrete jungle.

The human-built environment is depressing. I grew up in a very rural area surrounded by creeks and farmland. There was a curiosity and joy that I had growing up in these surroundings. When I lived near Detroit, I had a natural curiosity about the old buildings and the abandoned downtown that was so inviting. I would often tour around that area looking at the hidden gems. It feels as if the Inland Empire doesn’t have the same feel. I have haven’t wanted to explore anything but the remote natural environment. I find myself seeking out beautiful natural areas (that are usually small) just to remind myself that it all isn’t concrete and smog. Partly, I want to describe the area as dirty, but that isn’t it exactly, due to the smog and the lack of rain, it is as if nothing ever renews itself.

The area in my neighborhood I understand quite well as I walk those routes. The rest of the local area or city that surrounds me I only understand through the image from my car. I think this is problematic. When you walk through an area there is a connection to what is going on around you, you notice small things, uneven sidewalk, bushes/grasses, animals; you have a chance to see the details. When you drive through an area, you only get a quick glimpse and are left with a smaller amount of information in which to understand where you are.

When you move slowly through an area you find much more connection to that place. For instance, there are trees that run up a major thoroughfare in MoVal that I walk really regularly. These trees drop these strange, very small wide cone shape things. They aren’t a seed, but maybe part of a seed. They look like miniature conical straw hats. When they are sitting just right on the sidewalk they make a wonderful crunching noise (like a small pop) when you step on them. You have to step on them just right and I find myself wanting to collect these and cover an entire floor with them as the shape is incredible and they are beautifully delicate objects.

I live in the Inland Empire because the rent is cheaper than living closer to my job in Claremont. Due to this fact, I can afford a larger place that can also house my studio, and I have a yard. After having lived here, I like the proximity to the desert and I also enjoy being a little further out than anyone else, there is a sense of privacy I have out here that I seem to think I wouldn’t get elsewhere.

The number one reason why I stay where I am is the landscape. Being so close to a canyon and the Badlands affords me an escape from the reality (or is it the other way around) of day to day. I need a connection to nature that I haven’t been able to find anywhere else in Southern California, not even that coast.

I fear that there isn’t enough community in the Inland Empire, meaning that people are insular, not together, there is a great diversity of opinion and thought that isn’t shared due to this isolation and I wonder if we will ever be able to combine our voices or actions.